Ashalata Maheshwari, the investor who makes top honchos blush with her shayaris praising them, was conspicuous by her absence at the AGM of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) on Friday.

Maheshwari, the first in line of speakers at most AGMs, gave it a miss for Dena Bank’s shareholder meet — the bank is celebrating its platinum jubilee.

First AGM

To many others, TCS’ AGM was more relevant since it was Cyrus Mistry’s first-ever shareholder meeting as Tata Group Chairman.

TCS’ 18th AGM started with Mistry welcoming shareholders and then observing a minute’s silence for the lives lost in Uttarakhand.

Exuding confidence, Mistry moved on to the matters of the house, but not before “placing on record” his predecessor Ratan N Tata’s “invaluable contributions” and seeking investors’ “unstinting support”, as had been showered on the former chairman.

He also thanked TCS’ founder and first Chief Executive Officer, F.C. Kohli, and former Chief Financial Officer S. Mahalingam, who were among the audience. As investors rose to speak, the liveliness of Tata AGMs came flooding back into the nearly-packed Birla Matoshree Sabhagriha at Marine Lines.

Shareholder Adil Irani opened the session with laughter and a rhyme: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery.” The pun on ‘mystery’ was not missed. “At least two beautiful ladies should be on the board, Tata Beverages has many…,” was investor Vineet Kumar’s grievance, looking at the board sans women.

Shareholder Shailesh Mahadevia said his first impression of Mistry was that he was “young and smiling’’ and that he would like to carry that same impression of the Chairman for the rest of his life.

Wary eye on Infosys

Berus Framrose, another investor, warned the board that with N.R. Narayana Murthy in the saddle at Infosys, there was a “101 per cent chance of Infosys overtaking us”.

For investor Gautam Tiwari, Mistry’s face spoke volumes about his confidence. “In the years to come, we will come to know that Cyrus Mistry is the best man for the job,” he said.

As the proceedings were under way, TCS’ new CFO, Rajesh Gopinath, was working on his laptop and preparing notes. He was also attending his maiden AGM as CFO.

It was Mistry who stole the show throughout. TCS’ AGM kicks of a string of Tata Group shareholder meets, ending some time in August.

rajesh.kurup@thehindu.co.in

adith.charlie@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on June 28, 2013)
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